Blue Jays rewarded with another overtime win

Blue Jays rewarded with another overtime win

Blue Jays rewarded with another overtime win
CLEVELAND -- Toronto and Cleveland have been locked into a battle of endurance during the opening week of the season, but so far it's the Blue Jays who are coming out on top.

The two teams went into extra innings for the second consecutive game on Saturday afternoon at Progressive Field. On Thursday evening, it was a 16-inning marathon that was the longest Opening Day game in Major League Baseball history. For an encore, the two clubs followed up two days later with 12 more frames.

Coming out on the losing end would be tough for any team to handle, but that's not the Blue Jays' concern as they used four-run rally in the 12th to secure a 7-4 victory and a second straight win on Saturday.

"People don't understand how big of a grind those games are," Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie said. "We had 16 innings the night before that and then we go into 12 innings. You want to win those games, you go all that way, you use all your bullpen and you come out firing on all cylinders.

"I'm sure they're hurting over there, putting all that effort in and then you end up losing it. I'm glad we came out on top and I'm proud of our guys."

The Blue Jays and Indians are the first teams since 1969 to start the year with a pair of extra-innings games that lasted at least 12 innings. Toronto's success in those scenarios, though, isn't anything new as the club went 13-4 in extra frames last year and have carried over that success into 2012.

Toronto and Cleveland have already combined to play 28 innings despite just two games on the schedule. It has been a grueling grind, but something the Blue Jays aren't going to complain about as long as they keep coming out on the right end.

"I guess as long as the outcome continues to be the same we'll take however long in any given day to come out with another win," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

The Blue Jays entered the 12th inning locked in a 3-3 tie. They proceeded to record five hits and one walk en route to four runs and a commanding lead against Indians left-hander Tony Sipp.

The biggest blow came off the bat of Rajai Davis, who hit a two-run double with none out and runners on the corners to break the deadlock. It was the second straight game that Davis entered in a late-inning situation and found himself playing in critical moments against Cleveland.

"I just think any way I can contribute and help us win a ballgame," said Davis, who serves in a reserve outfield role. "That's what I was going in there to do, help us win, and fortunately for us it worked in our advantage."

The late-inning drama overshadowed a dominating performance by the starting pitchers for both teams. Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez and Toronto's Brandon Morrow each started the game with four hitless innings and completely dominated opposing hitters with the exception of one frame.

Jimenez was perfect through five innings, but appeared to tire during the later part of his outing. A walk to Colby Rasmus with two out in the sixth marked the Blue Jays' first base runner and two more in the seventh gave the club its first scoring opportunity of the night.

Lawrie didn't let that go to waste as he recorded an opposite field single to tie the game at two and end Jimenez's bid for a no-hitter. Lawrie, who began the year 0-for-8, finished his afternoon on Saturday with three consecutive hits.

"I was just trying to put the ball on the barrel," Lawrie said. "Trying to use my hands a little bit more to take a big deep breath and do what I do. Fortunately enough to get the barrel on it a couple of times and put it in play."

Morrow was equally as effective during the early stages of the game for Toronto but his bid for a no-hitter came to an end with two out in the fifth. Cleveland sparked a rally when Casey Kotchman hit a little dribbler out in front of the plate. Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia came out to make the play, but his throw sailed wide of first base.

Adam Lind got a glove on the ball, but was unable to field it cleanly out of the dirt, and the play was ruled an error on Arencibia. That allowed the inning to continue and Morrow then served up a 3-2 fastball to Jason Kipnis that cleared the wall in right field to end the no-hit bid and give the Indians a 2-0 lead.

Those were the only runs Morrow would allow as he managed to get through seven innings with three walks and three strikeouts.

"Brandon Morrow is one of the toughest guys in the American League," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's got elite stuff. When he's around the plate and he pitches ahead, he's as tough as any one of those guys that have big names. He was able to do that today.

"He was tough. He pitches to both sides of the plate and he had that tough slider that he wipes out some of those guys with. He had his good stuff."

The Blue Jays appeared on the verge of avoiding extra-innings in the ninth when second baseman Kelly Johnson hit a solo home run to give his club a 3-2 lead.

That provided Sergio Santos with his first save opportunity in a Blue Jays uniform, but he left a fastball up in the zone to Asdrubal Cabrera. Cleveland's shortstop belted the pitch over the wall in right field to even the score and extend yet another game into extras.

It wasn't an ideal scenario, but as long as those games keep turning into wins, Toronto isn't going to mind the added workload.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.